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Looking Back as a Source of Encouragement

“I may not be where I need to be but I thank God I am not where I used to be.”

Joyce Meyer

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past” (Isaiah 43:18). “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead (Philippians 3:13). These Scriptures give us wise instruction. Usually when we look back at our past, the enemy uses it to condemn us, define us and immobilize us. Recently, though, I have found an exception to that rule.

For the past six months I have been on a weight loss journey, wanting to have more energy. My initial prayer was, “Lord, help me to have the want to, to want to.” For the first couple of months, I had zero motivation. Goals are great to have, but sometimes when we fixate on them, they turn into a source of discouragement. 

Last spring, I attended a friend’s healthy eating Bible study and one of the things I learned was to focus on the “wins.” Eating meals out were the most difficult to navigate. During the time of this study, John and I ate lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. My big “win” for the meal was not eating their bread. We still shared a piece of cheesecake, but when I left there, I didn’t focus on the unhealthy items I ate, as much as that one win.

My initial weight loss goal is coming off ever so slowly. I have a choice where my thoughts will go. I can choose to focus on how much progress I’ve made, even though I’m only part way to my goal, or I can give my attention to how much I still want to lose. Which one do you think would encourage me? When I look back on the “past,” how far I’ve come, then I’m motivated to keep eating better and exercising more. But if my gaze lands on how far I still need to go, then discouragement sets in and my drive to keep on keeping on, goes out the door. Likewise, when we focus on our disappointments, loss or unmet expectations, instead of being grateful for all that God has blessed us with, hopelessness sets in.

Let Philippians 1:6 encourage your heart: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” The next time you’re challenged with a goal, look back on far you’ve come, how much you’ve attained and let your progress propel you forward. The improvement may be slow, but after all, the tortoise did beat the hare!

“More people fail for lack of encouragement than for any other reason.”


Relevant Reflection:

In what area do you need to look back, see how far you’ve come, and receive encouragement?

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